By Staff Reporter
The majority of South Africa’s police officers are obese, suffer from hypertension, diabetes or cholesterol, and live in dirty, poorly maintained homes, said the head of health for Metropolitan Health, Terrance Govender. Govender is also an administrator of Polmed, the police medical aid scheme.
This was revealed at a meeting with the deputy minister of police Maggie Sotyu at the Gugulethu police barracks on Wednesday.
According to Govender, of the over 53 000 cops screened for different health problems, 75% were obese, 42% had high blood pressure, and 21% had high cholesterol.
Govender said diabetic police officers missed a month of work a year, while high cholesterol kept members at home 29 days a year. Officers suffering from hypertension stayed at home for 16 days a year, and those with depression were kept off work about 28 days.
“We can’t expect them to fight crime if their health is in such state. The picture is bleak. A lot needs to be done,”
Alarmed by the “bleak” figures, Sotyu said drastic measures were needed to allow police officers to fight crime appropriately.
She said police management did not provide enough support to keep officers in good shape, and blamed senior managers for the cops’ poor living conditions at the barracks.
“This place is dirty… it’s not being maintained. It’s like a pig sty. The security is also the main problem… anyone can walk into this building any time they want, putting the lives of police at risk,” she said.